Saturday, August 13, found all 10 of us headed down I-5 toward Yosemite. This year's itinerary included a two day drive down, a 10 day backpack in the wilderness, and a two day drive back home. We had a reservation for the trailhead to be sure we could get in, and we had done all the research on where/how to rent bear canisters. Everything was looking good!
As we passed through Redding, I commented on the sad ending of Pete's PCT hike at Lassen, which resulted in Pete having to fly home from Redding. Pete was through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer, starting at Mexico. He set up a web site, www.pct2005.com, and carried a laptop and satellite phone so he could document his adventure from the trail with pictures and journals. I found his web site before he started the trip, and I had followed him all the way to Lassen online. He did a great job on his site with fantastic photos and text. Check it out when you have time at www.pct2005.com. Pete's trip had a sad ending when he lost too much weight, got giardia, and became too weak to go on. What I didn't realize at the time was that our Yosemite trip was also going to have an early ending this year.
By Sunday afternoon, we were in Yosemite renting bear canisters. These canisters are made of hard plastic with no way a bear can get into them. They are to protect the bears from becoming too friendly and dangerous while also protecting the hikers' food. They weigh about 2.5 pounds empty, and are rated to hold 3-5 days of food for one person. If you do the math, this means we would need about 20 canisters for our 10 day trip with 10 people. That would add 25 pounds to our load, and it would mean everyone would have to carry two canisters! They retail at about $70 each and are required for backpacking in Yosemite. Fortunately, Yosemite rents the canisters at $5 each for up to two weeks. However, we still had the problem of carrying 20 canisters. Half of our party is kids, and carrying 20 canisters would be absolutely impossible. We had realized this early, and we had dried lots of food and made it as compact as we could to try to save space.
We asked the rangers to rent us eight canisters at first, so we could see if we could fit all our food in them. If not, we could always come back for more since we were packing in the parking lot. We fit all 10 days of food into the canisters as efficiently as possible, and ended up fitting it all into six canisters! That equals a little more than 16 days of food for one person in one canister. We were pleased with this outcome and returned the other two canisters and got $10 back.
That night we camped at Bridalveil Creek Campground near Glacier Point. We ate a quick dinner and headed for Glacier Point to get pictures of the sunset and to show Joshua the valley floor, 3000 feet below.
Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. it started raining. We had never been rained on in Yosemite before (5 trips in the last 11 years), so this was a rare experience. We quickly packed up our sleeping bags and headed for the trailhead. It continued raining until about 5:00 p.m., which kept us cool for most of the hike in. We got thoroughly soaked as it poured around 2:00 p.m. Suzanne's hip started bothering her in the afternoon, but she assumed it was something minor and didn't say anything. We camped near a creek crossing that evening. We built a fire and dried everyone's shoes, socks, and clothes. One of Michael's socks was missing the next day, so it must have succeeded in falling into the fire.
The next few days went as normal, with sunny skies, lots of hiking, snow, big fish, frost, etc. We crossed the mountains at 10,900 feet, and Suzanne mentioned that her hip was bothering her more. We had some trouble with snow, due to the late snowpack, but were able to find a safe way over the mountains anyway.
On Friday, Dad and I went on a dayhike while the others rested at camp. Suzanne was hoping her leg might feel better after a day of rest. Our dayhike destination was a high lake where we hoped to catch some big golden trout. It was a rough hike, at only 2.5 miles, which took 3.5 hours due to several ridges and a steep pass we had to climb over. We were rewarded with golden trout, ranging from 11 – 13 inches. We saw bigger trout, but couldn't entice them to take a lure. The return trip only took 3 hours, but was very tiring.
The next day found Suzanne's leg the same, so we decided to abandon our original plans and start toward the car. As we began climbing back over the mountains, Christina started having short dizzy spells where she couldn't see correctly. She had to stop every few minutes and wait for her vision to clear. Dad decided this must be due to the altitude, which must be correct as her eyes went back to normal when we got to lower elevation.
Sunday we decided to walk out since Suzanne's leg was still sore, Christina's eyes were still having trouble, and some of the younger kids were having trouble making it through the night without wetting their sleeping bags. It was disappointing to leave early, but it was a great trip overall. We got to eat tons of food the last two days since we were leaving early. Everyone's favorite meal was Ptarmigan Blackberry Cobbler.
We had two digital video cameras (5 hours of tape), four digital still cameras (3.5 GB of memory), tons of extra batteries, and a solar battery charger with us on this trip, so we got lots of pictures and video of the scenery and activities. Pictures are available at http://www.farnellfamily.com/pictures/Backpacking/2005-08_Yosemite and a DVD will be available by request later this year.
Everyone had a great time on this trip, and we are all looking forward to next year's adventure!
For more pictures of this trip, please click here.